Whether a person decides to use alcohol or drugs is a personal choice, influenced by multiple biological, familial, psychological and sociocultural factors. But, once a person uses alcohol or drugs, the risk of developing alcoholism or drug dependence is greatly influenced by genetics. Research shows that genes are responsible for about half the risk for alcoholism and addiction, and while genetics are not the sole determinant, their presence or absence may increase the likelihood that a person will become alcohol or drug dependent.
- Researchers reported Monday they’ve found a gene that might help explain why so many people find alcohol irresistible, and why others are able to abstain from more than a drink or two.
- The gene is called beta-Klotho, and it seems to act as a brake on drinking alcohol.
- Mice engineered to lack this gene seem to like alcohol much more and certainly choose to drink more alcohol than normal mice, the researchers found.
“About 23 percent can be classified as binge drinkers — four to five drinks in a row for most people — and 6 percent are heavy drinkers who do this five or more days a month.”